“The controller will always be the same size in your hands but your children will not.“
This should be the worst BKK trip I ever have. I hope it will never happen again!
I will not write this report according to chronological order as I have visited the same places. So I will write only the highlights of the trip.
We took AirAsia and the it is a scary flight (not the pilots’ fault).
Just minutes after took off, the flight ran into some really bad turbulence. We can feel that the plane sway left and right and also sudden rise and drop in altitude.
Some of the passengers were praying and a few even shouted.
The pilot make a steep climb and bring us out of the turbulence and the remaining flight is smooth.
When I land in DMK, I usually buy my SIM card from True Move. With THB299 and 1GB to 1.5GB, it is quite a reasonable deal.
This time, we were told that they have a data only plan that cost THB200 with 1GB of data. We all sign up for this.
However the staff subscribe us to a 90MB data plan with THB150 credit. As we rush for time, we did not check and quickly board the airport transfer.
By the time we discover it, it is too late.
Some of the True Move staff is also very unprofessional and one even flirt with other colleagues in front of us!
One of the staff even do a reset of my friend’s hand phone look and feel.
So just be aware!
Hotel – Sukumvit Galleria 10
This hotel by Compass Hospitality is located in Sukhumvit area, smack right in the middle between Nana and Asoke BTS stations.
From the main Sukhumvit Road, you will need to walk about 5 to 7 mins to the hotel. The hotel do provides a tuk tuk service to the main road.
The walk from the Soi to the hotel is a little dark. The stairs are not very well-lit so please be cautious when walking down especially at night.
Within the vicinity of the hotel, there is no convenient store. There are one massage and one hairdresser shop just a few steps walk away from the hotel.
At night, the walk from the main road to the hotel can be quite dark but overall I still feel safe. It seems is also a taxi call stand near to the hotel. I do not know are they legitimate or not but I have friends engaging their service and all is well.
We book standard room for us but due to the high occupancy, there are no standard room left. So they upgrade some of us to Club room but without the perks.
I was assigned to a Club room and each room seems to have a “theme”. My room is red and it looks sleazy. To be honest, it looks like a brothel.
The room size is good and all facilities are functioning well. There is a universal plug at the working table so if you forgot to bring the adapter, you still can charge your gadgets.
There is a safe in the room and the water pressure is good.
The hotel staff is also friendly and the housekeeping staff also perform their job well.
This is a must visit place for me when I come to BKK and I have written about Yaowarat many times. The wholesale place and the almost quarterly changing stuff they sell attracts me. Not to mention the nice food either in the morning or at night.
Remember many taxi drivers refuse to come to Yaowarat due to the traffic condition. Also do not tell the taxi Chinatown as most of hem know this place as Yaowarat.
So the easier way to reach there is either by boat or by MRT and my preferred method is the boat. Search for my past post on how to get there.
Taking a boat to Rachawongse pier (N5) from Saphan Taksin pier is easy. Just do not board the tourist boat as it is expensive.
Rachawongse pier has been improvised and the pier looks newer.
The things that the market sell has so much variety that you will be lost.
When comes to food, you have many to choose from. One work of caution though. If you want to try the street food, do not come on Monday as I heard there are no street stalls on Monday.
We had our dinner at our usual T&K restaurant. Food is ok but I am eager to try other restaurants in Yaowarat too. So if you have any recommendations, please do let me know.
One of the highlights of our trip is a visit to the fishing village located in Samut songkram, Khlong Cone. We engaged the service of Nan from Thailand Secret Tour to organise our trip.
We were pick up at 0730hrs and the van driver drive like there is no tomorrow or maybe we are not used to travelling in Thailand’s highway.
We reach the fishing village in 90mins.
The village itself is very simple with a few houses within the compound.
We are brief by the head of the community on the history and significance of the mangrove.
The village prepare the food and prepare to be transported to the Krateng.
The boat travel along the river towards the Gulf of Thailand. Along the way, we stop by to feed the monkeys.
The monkeys are very excited when they saw us stopping and start to gather at the bank of the river.
The boatmen gave us a bag of potatoes and we threw at them. The monkeys quickly snatch the food and some of our friends throw the potatoes near to the boat.
The monkeys actually swim near to the boat and freak some of us out.
After feeding the monkeys, we continue our journey to the open sea.
We were brought to see an Oyster farm and how they are being breed. There are actually shrimp and cockles farm too!
The reason for having a stilt house within the farm is to let the staff to stay overnight there so to prevent theft in the middle of the night.
We then proceed to lunch which is pre-cook at the village.
The boatman brought us to a stilt house for lunch. We will have to climb a ladder to reach it and it is definitely not for the faint heart and maybe even the seniors.
The floor is entirely made with bamboo and I would advise you to wear shoes as there may be small nails poking out.
The boatmen brought the food up and start to prepare for us.
We just get a piece of wood plank and lay it down to serve it as a table. The food have Tom Yum, mussels, fish, squid, prawns etc.
It is indeed a unique experience and enjoying the sea breeze while eating is really enjoyable.
After lunch is where the problem start. I start to feel unwell and my stomach is having a typhoon inside. I thought it might be the Tom Yum is a little spicy and my tummy cannot take it.
Never expect this turn out to be the worst part of the trip.
Though there are toilet facilities in the stilt house but it is very basic and do not even expect an automatic flush system.
Leaving the stilt house is the same way as we go up. We have to climb down the stairs.
After climbing down the same “stairs”, we move on to the next activity which is mangrove planting.
Just like my school days, I am not paying attention when the guide is telling us what we are planting. All I hear is “took 9 years to grow”.
The boatman drive us to the mangrove and we are given a bunch of plants to plant. These plants need 9 years to be full-grown and will help in the rehabilitation of the mangrove swamp.
We were told that the mud is good for skin texture and some of the people or even beauty shop took the mud from this place and give people facial treatment.
One of our friends than happily apply on her legs and hand and we remind her that the monkeys also do their “business” at the same place too.
The next activity is to let us try wake boarding. Out of nowhere, when we are in the open water, a boat appear with a board. This board is not the usual wake boarding you see. It is a self-made board and you can actually stand on it and the boat will pull you.
Some of our friends tried it and it looks quite fun and some of them even done it like a pro.
After we have all the fun we need, we finally travel back to the village.
Other usual attractions we went to are like Chinatown, Terminal 21, Ratchada train market etc. I have covered them in my other trip reports so I will not cover them again.
It is overall a nice trip though I have a very bad food poisoning there (that’s the worst part). I just take it as my bad luck but I will not let it spoil the trip. Another advice is that I initially took some charcoal pills to stop my food poisoning but it does not work. Therefore I suggest you to ask the pharmacy for some real medicine.
I will definitely be back soon again.
We are like headless goose for this trip. We have done very little research on Bandung except on “how to take a taxi from airport to hotel and we even get this wrong.
Months before the trip, AirAsia has made several changes to our flight. Our flight has been moved from afternoon to early morning. In the end we lost a day in Bandung.
Check-in with AirAsia is pretty fast but it is a little chaotic as we need to go to the kiosk to check in and print our baggage tag first. We then have to queue up for the staff to tag our luggage for check in and verify our boarding pass. Seems a bit confusing.
The flight leave on time and during the initial flight, we met with some turbulence and I was a little scared actually. We can feel the airplane sudden drop and rise in altitude.
AirAsia do sell sim cards in the flight and it cost IDR110K. I would suggest you to get one as I later found out that the airport do not have any official telco kiosk that sell SIM cards.
There are touts though that quietly try to sell you SIM cards. I did not enquire the price but they are not pushy.
We reach Husein Sastranegara International Airport on time and we have to walk a distance to the arrival hall.
There is only one luggage carousel and we have to wait a while for the luggage to arrive. However having said that, the airport is rather basic and I wonder does the baggage handler have a motorised vehicle to transport the bags from the airplane to the carousel or they have to push a big trolley.
After picking up our bags, we went out of the terminal and what we saw is like chaos.
We saw a group of blue taxis at the opposite of the terminal but they don’t like bluebird taxi. We approach them and they quoted us IDR100K. I remembered that the fare should be around IDR50k to IDR60K. We try to bargain down to IDR80K but the drivers refused to budge.
In the end we agree to IDR100K. The traffic in Bandung is not as bad as I have imagine. We reach our hotel in 20mins.
Ivory hotel is located in a quiet road and there are some food outlet nearby. There is a café and Japanese restaurant just beside the hotel.
Check-in is pretty smooth but a little slow as it is only handled by one person. The poor staff has to prepare all our breakfast voucher, key and also to check with the housekeeping is our room ready.
We book a family room and it is spacious though the toilet is a little small. The room is clean and the water pressure is good. Hot water from the shower is consistent. One little thought from them is that one of the power wall plus is actually a multi-plug. Unfortunately I have forgotten to take a picture of it. It is really thoughtful of them so if you do not have any travel adapter, this wall plug will save you.
You are also given a coupon that entitle you to a 20% discount in their restaurant.
We ask the hotel to recommend a driver and vehicle to take us around Bandung. The hotel quoted us IDR1.5M which includes 12 hours of transport service anywhere in Bandung using a 10 seat van. I ask the model of the vehicle and we were told that it is a Toyota HIACE.
We then agree to it because we are getting a van and for 12 hours and thought that it is a reasonable deal.
After we settled down, we ask the front desk for recommendations for food. Lesly (the front desk staff) recommended the Humming Bird café. It is about 10 mins walk from the hotel.
The hotel has produced a simple map to show the recommended restaurants and available Factory Outlet (F.O.) within 15 mins walk from the hotel.
We then walk to Humming Bird Café and the entrance of the restaurant is very obscure.
The restaurant is decorated according to the birds. It has an open seating which decorated like a bird cage.
Inside the restaurants are decorated with bird-cage and birds.
The restaurant serve both Indonesian and Western meals. We of course ordered Indonesian meals.
I remembered the Nasi Georeng that I have eaten in one of the warung in Bali. It is heavenly. So we ordered Nasi Georeng.
The food served here is pretty good. The proficiency of English here is not that good but we can still communicate by using hand gesture and with the help of the menu.
So please speak slowly and polite to them. They are trying very hard to understand you so please be patient with them.
Along the street where Humming Bird Café is, there are actually many eating outlets and some are street side food.
After a sumptuous meal, it is already getting dark. We then walk to the nearest F.O. which is Heritage. We actually just browse the merchandise outside Heritage but we spend more time on the F.O. beside it; Cascade.
We spend quite a bit of time here and we spend out first Rupiah shopping here.
After all the shopping, all of us felt tired and decided to retire back to our room.
Woke up early to have breakfast.
Breakfast is held in the hotel café; Everyjoy Café.
The selection of breakfast isn’t fantastic. The choice of food is limited. They do give you a complimentary in-house special coffee. I don’t drink coffee so I can’t comment on that.
The taste of the food is average. Nothing to shout about. The staff is friendly and accommodating though.
I really like the decoration of the café. It is geared towards retro and even the coffee machine looks so much in the 70s.
The wall are lined up with 70s/80s posters (though they look new!) and some vintage items.
There are also outdoor seating which is great as the weather in Banding is not hot at all.
Our driver arrived at 0800hrs to pick us up. Our drivers name is Dicky and when we saw the van, I was actually a little disappointed. It is a KIA Pregio and the condition of the van is not that good. The van looks tired and in need of a refresh.
Dicky asked us where we would like to go. I really wanted to visit Kawah Putih but Dicky told me that one way will need 3 hours. I was shock to hear that because I thought it is only 90mins from Bandung. My tour mates do not want to travel that far so Dicky suggested touring northern Bandung.
The first stop is called “Farmhouse”. It is a small little park with animals and also some European architecture buildings.
The main draw of this place is actually the animals. You can pet and feed the animals. You buy food from the stalls for IDR5K per bundle to feed the rabbits, hamster and goat.
One little tip here. Many people throw away the carrot green on the floor after feeding the rabbits. You can pick all these up and use it to feed the goats. You get free food for the goats!
The next stop is the Pelangi waterfall. There is dual pricing here where locals can go in for IDR15K and foreigners will have to pay IDR25K for it.
The Pelangi waterfall is about 72m tall and there are well paved steps all the way down to the falls. However the groups is not so adventurous and they are willing to settle down for just a remote view of the falls.
We then proceed to have lunch at D’Seuhah Da Lada. It is a Sundanes restaurant.
The have built huts in the area and you can enjoy your meal in a non-aircon environment. Remember that Bandung weather is cooling and the humidity is low. So it will be more enjoyable while in the open.
The staff here is friendly and again their English Language is quite lacking but their genuine service make up for it.
The snack shop also bring up some samples for us to try before the food is serve and though we know they are a little more expensive compared to getting them elsewhere, we still buy some from them.
The food here is quite nice is it may be worth a visit if you are nearby.
Our next stop is the famous Kopi Luwak Cikole.
Again I do not drink coffee so I don’t know how to appreciate it. The impression I have is drinking coffee from the cat’s poop.
The cats are quite cute actually can they have some cats that you can carry them. I do not know is this a good idea as we may be stressing them out instead.
A guide describe the coffee making process which I am inattentive to. All I hear is Lawuk, coffee and poop (or something like that).
There are 2 types of coffee; one is original and the other is with Tongkat Ali and Ginseng.
We bought one cup of each flavour and it cost us IDR11K. Very expensive coffee indeed.
Dicky ask us whether we are interested in riding horses. We said “ok!”.
The place Dicky bought us to is actually De Ranch. The entrance fee I think is about IDR10K per person.
Here you can ride a horse for IDR25K and ride in a horse carriage for about IDR10K per person.
There is also other activities like flying fox and mini rock climbing (for kids).
This place is good if you want to burn an hour or two and also a place for the kids to enjoy themselves.
Our next stop is the floating market.
Please do not have high expectation of this floating market and do not even compare it with Thailand’s floating market. They are both very different.
The “boats” that sell the food is actually tied to a platform unlike the ones in Bangkok where the boat is travelling on the water.
You can buy food from them but you will need to buy the coins first. Note that the coins are non-refundable so just buy the amount that you need.
We then make a dash back to Bandung and the kids are starving. Before dinner, Dicky brought me to buy a SIM card that cost IDR5.5K that gives me 2GB of data with no SMS or talk time.
After that we just pop by in the nearest fast food restaurant. It turn out to be KFC and we paid IDR198K for a dinner for 5.
During the meal, we ask Dicky can we engage him directly instead of through the hotel. He said it is possible but he cannot pick us up at the hotel. We understand the reason behind it and we then agreed to meet at an alternate location not far away from our hotel.
The price is so much cheaper compared to the hotel but we just take it as a lesson learn.
We meet Dicky at the agreed location and again Dicky ask us where we want to go. We said we wanted somewhere more natural and open.
Dicky then suggested Kawah Putih again but again it was shot down. We then decide to stay within Bandung city and do F.O. hopping.
I will just briefly describe the F.O. I have visited. Note that taking pictures within in F.O. is prohibited so I did not take any.
Marc & Stuart and Polo Ralph Lauren
I was told Polo Ralph Lauren is different from Ralph Lauren in the US.
Polo Ralph Lauren is actually a local brand and Ralph Lauren US will not verify the authenticity of the Polo Ralph Lauren merchandise you have purchase.
Anyway the clothes here are not that cheap but they do offer a good variety with different qualities.
As for Marc & Stuart, they mainly sell Nike shoes and Adidas products. The price is quite reasonable and we actually bought 3 pairs of shoes.
It is pronounced as Rama Mo-de.
I was told that this is the biggest F.O. in Bandung. It is a little more expensive here but you can see the quality is slightly better than some of the other smaller F.O.
Outside the F.O. is a café that sell pastry and food but to me it is on the higher side.
GLOW is a mid tier F.O. The price is easier on your wallet and it mainly cater to mid size people but we do find a bit of plus size clothes there.
Nothing much here and I did not remember wrongly, lots of kid’s clothes here.
In the F.O. here, though the shop sign may yell Nike but inside the shop, you will not be surprise that they are selling other brands merchandise too.
So this Adidas outlet also sell other brands of merchandise like Nike and Puma.
The price of the merchandise here is a little on the high side but still affordable. The variety is there too and you have many to choose from.
Riau Stock Mall
I think this is one of the F.O. that suits us. It is really like a market and I can get a similar t-shirt for IDR79K where I have to pay IDR158K in Cascade.
If you want some bargains, this is the place to go.
We have lunch in a place called Tjendana Bistro. I think there is another name for it.
The food here is nice and reasonable. The feel of the restaurant is a little empty and it has a courtyard behind.
Dicky told us this is the cheaper place to eat in this area.
The Chili squid is good and the Nasi Georeng is also tasty.
The staff is friendly and accommodating but please speak slowly to them as their English proficiency is still lacking.
As for dinner, we ask for a place with nice view and I actually requested Bukit Moko at Warung Daweung.
However Dicky says that his vehicle is not suitable to go up the slope as he view it as dangerous.
He then suggested Stone café which we agreed.
As Stone café is located at higher elevation, the weather is very cooling.
Food is decent and the price is a little steep though.
Before we are drop off, we request to buy some local Bandung snacks and we are brought to Kartika Sari.
This seems to be a popular place for local snacks and everything seems to sell like hotcakes.
After that Dicky drop us off a place near our hotel and we call it a day.
A relaxing day for us with no plans in mind.
We ask our hotel to book 2 blue bird taxis for us. The metered taxis arrives on time and we request them to go to Trans Studio Mall.
The ride is smooth with light traffic. I can see that there is a minimum payment of IDR35K for the ride. This means that even if your ride is below IDR35K, you still have to pay the minimum amount.
When we reach our destination, the driver told us that we have to top up another IDR3K. As he does not speak English, I assume that it is the booking fee.
I believe Trans Studio Mall is the biggest mall in Bandung. At the least this is what Dicky told us.
There is a large amusement park inside. The entrance to the park is IDR17K on a weekday and IDR27K on a weekend.
We just loiter around the mall and it was spacious. There are many food options and we even find the long-lost A&W.
After lunch, we decided to catch a movie. A ticket will set us back at IDR50K which is a steal to us.
After the movie, it is already almost 1600hrs.
We decide to just visit the F.O. near to our hotel and ask the driver to bring us to Summit F.O.
While our taxi driver know the way, my friend’s driver just drop them off at Heritage. They have to cross two roads to get to Passion F.O.
Crossing the road is not a big deal but crossing the roads in Bandung needs guts and glory!
We just went to a few factory outlets around the area and we call it a day.
On the way back, we saw the shop that sell plus size clothes are open. We do some shopping there and buy almost IDR800K of clothes. So if you are plus size and wanted to buy some simple and not fancicul clothes, you can try Arella.
My family decide to have our dinner at Everjoy. The Nasi Georeng is not that nice actually as the rice is a little soggy.
When we are handed our bill, the staff ask us do we have the 20% discount coupon that the hotel has given us. I said yes but it is in the room.
The kind staff told us that he can give us the 20% discount but we have to provide them with the coupon later. I was like “Wow. That is what I call customer oriented.”
We depart Bandung today.
Dicky will pick us up at 0700hrs. Dicky’s boss has negotiated with our hotel to agree to pick us up directly from the hotel. We do not need to be sneaky about this.
Last night, we request the Everyjoy café to pack some breakfast for us and they actually willing to do it. We are grateful about it.
Unfortunately Dicky cannot make it and send another driver from another company to fetch us.
As it is a Sunday morning, traffic is light and we reach the airport in 20mins.
Bandung airport is pretty small and clearing immigration is fast. Note that any mineral water bottle will have to be surrendered to the security. Only real empty water bottle will be allowed through.
This wrap up our trip to Bandung.
I did not have any high expectation from Bandung from the start. Though I did not manage to visit Kawa Putih which is a disappointment to me but I still enjoy this trip very much.
Bandung is cleaner than I thought. I do not see trash very much on the street.
The people that I have interacted with is friendly and honest. I once given a K Circle staff extra IDR5K and he promptly return it to me.
The taxi driver brought me to Trans Studio Mall wanted to return me IDR2K of change which I politely decline.
Bandung is a nice place if you just want some simple shopping and maybe have a day trip out of the city. It may not be my favourite city but it is a good place to chill out.
When travelling in Bandung, we see many specialty or theme café which is nicely decorated.
Bandung is definitely worth a visit but please…… do not come during Indonesian holidays and you should know why. ^__^
For almost 5 years, I have been using Windows Phone.
I remembered my first Windows Phone is a HTC HD7. I started off experimenting the OS and I like it very much. The Live Tiles and the smooth operation of the phone attracted me.
During then, there is very few apps for our local content. However I felt that the OS has lots of potential. Android and iOS is quite deeply entrenched in the mobile market. Windows Phone will have a huge battle to fight.
My second Windows phone is a Nokia 920. I used to dislike Nokia but they did a good job implementing the OS into a Nokia phone.
By now, Windows Phone app for local content is still a very few. Not even a single local bank wrote an app for it. Many app only support either iOS or Android or both.
In Jan 2015, I got the Nokia 930. It is really a nice phone running Windows Phone 8.1. The design is simple and classic. The phone hardly hang or reboot itself.
However at this point, I start to lose faith in Windows Phone. Even with the Lumia 950 series and the Universal Apps, I cannot see any future with this OS.
I cannot monitor my kids school work neither can I control my AV Receiver remotely. There is no local banking app and I even doubt Microsoft will bring in the Lumia 950.
It has been rumoured that Microsoft is going to kill off the Lumia series and release the Surface Phone.
If there is a similar app in Android and iOS, the Windows Phone version is of low quality type.
I really love Windows Phone but as the saying goes; Reality is cruel.
So after much deliberation and sadness, I have finally move to Android.
Thank you Windows Phone. If your app quality is as good as iOS and Android, I will be back for sure.
This trip is shopping trip………… but not for me. I am just a runner and “controlled” remotely (read – Wife’s runner, financial provider and butler).
I have been to Bangkok several times so you can read it all here.
I will not write the usual (and maybe even boring) stuff of what I did there but just write down the new things I have experience or my thoughts.
I took Air Asia to Bangkok and to BKK sector is fine. However the situation in the airport is a little chaotic when returning. Many passengers do not know which queue to queue.
The lines are long and very obvious that there are many people who jump queue.
Therefore I would suggest you reach the airport at least 2.5 hours before your flight time.
Airport Bus to the fringe of the city
After you exit the custom check in T1, keep your head up and look for the sign that says Gate 6. Walk toward the gate and on your right, you will see a kiosk with the A1 bus sign. You do not need to approach the counter. Just wait at the stand there that shows the information of the A1 and A2 bus.
I waited less than 10 mins and the bus arrive. A1 sign is clearly display on the bus so you will not miss it.
The bus do not stop for long. It stop for about 5 mins and move on to T2.
The ride to Mo Chit is about 20 mins or less, depending on traffic. The bus will drop you off just before it reaches Mo Chit BTS station and you just walk about 5 mins to the station.
I have forgotten to take down the exit number of Mo Chit BTS whree the bus stop but you may refer to the bus stop sign in the picture that shows how it looks like.
The fare is THB30 and within 5 mins after I alight, another A1 bus arrive.
It may make economic sense to take the bus if there is one or two person but for three or four person, a taxi will be more economical. However Bangkok traffic is really bad and depending on what time you arrive, sometimes it may make sense even for 4 person to take a bus and then a train (if you hotel is accessible by the MRT or BTS). You may not save money but you save time.
Sukhumvit on a Sunday
It seems quiet on a Sunday. Only one side (most parts between Nana BTS and Asoke BTS) of the walkway has street vendors. This mirror my experience in Yaowarat in my previous visit where on Monday, there is very few street side vendors on Monday. Is there a roster going around on who can open stall on which day?
I have read that the Thai government is eradicating street side vendor but doing this will lose part of its charm and character of the city. However I do understand that pedestrian need to have walking space too.
I also see that there is also an increased in police presence and I wonder why.
Talad Rot Fai Ratchada
This is my first stop since they are only open from Thu to Sun.
To reach there, take the MRT (not BTS!) to Thailand Cultural Center MRT station. Exit from Exit 3. There will be signs to guide you in the MRT station.
Once you exit, U-turn and walk towards the shopping mall. There are 2 ways to going there; one is to walk across the mall on level 1 or turn left on the first road you hit.
I chose to walk across the mall and coincidentally there seems to have a small bazaar there. They even have goat feeding activity where you pay THB20 for a 10% filled milk bottle to feed the goat.
Just follow the crowd and exit another entrance (back entrance) and you will see the entrance of the market.
Once you hit the market, you will see rows of food stalls. It is a food heaven here.
The other part of the market is stalls selling general merchandise.
The border of the market are all the pubs and restaurants.
The retro feel here is not as strong as the one near Seacon Square. However it is still a good market to go as it is more compact and the size of the market is not too daunting.
A new bridge in Ratchaprasong!
Why is this big news and why does it even matter?
Firstly, this bridge is bigger and wider than the previous one. It can accommodate more people and the human traffic flow is so much better.
Another good news for shoppers is that they are extending the bridge to Platinum Mall area. In the past, visitors have to walk under the hot sun to Platinum Mall but once this bridge is completed, it will be sheltered all the way.
The shoppers (you know who you are) will love it!
City Lodge Soi 9
This is my usual hotel in Bangkok when I travel solo.
I love and hate this place at the same time.
I like it because it is just beside Nana Station. It has Mcdonalds, 7-11 and street side food stalls around it.
I hate it because there is a night market just outside the hotel. The entrance of the hotel is also very obscure. The entrance of the hotel is not accessible by the taxi so you will need to walk a few steps to the taxi. It’s no big deal actually but if it rains……… you know.
During check-in, the staff looks so uninteresting. He doesn’t seems to be motivated but still does his job.
The room is clean and seems like nothing has change.
Well, there is one. Now they uses a electronic safe instead of those retro key type. Maybe they have sold all the old safe to Talad Rot Fai.
The water pressure is alright but it can be better.
At night, this place is full of lady boys. There is so many that I think real woman is a rare species here. I once told my friend that the most beautiful woman in Sukhumvit are actually man!
This place has stood the test of time. Nothing seems to have change.
The Ratchawong pier has been slightly renovated but it is the pillars that have the most makeover.
This is one of the few times that I come to Yaowarat in the afternoon and the crowd has thin out a lot. Maybe it is a better time to come in the afternoon next time but he down side is once it gets dark, the ferry will stop operating and you will either need to take a taxi out (which is tough) or walk all the way to Hua Lamphong MRT station.
One of the best time to come to Yaowarat is near to Songkran time as they have many types of water gun on sale.
There is currently a food bazaar just outside Central World Ratchaprasong. You will be spolit for choice here and just eat all you can.
I also noticed that there are added security for this mall. The access to this mall form the first level is very limited now as most parts are bring fenced up. You can only enter the area outside the mall from a few designated entrance. I hope this is not the new normal.
I came, I saw and I shop. Couldn’t be happier when I see the smile on my wife’s face when I bring back all the shopping box (not only bags).
This island rank one of the lowest in my to-go list. The impression I have about this island has nothing for me to look forward to.
However I need to find somewhere to go. Somewhere new. After looking at the map of Cebu, all the familiar names have been crossed out; leaving Bantayan and Camotes Island.
So I chose Bantayan Island after my friends in Dumaguete and Manila recommended it. However I am still hesitant.
Bantayan has been often compared with Malapascua. Malapascua being a dive haven, is more well-known and mentioned more especially among divers.
Cebu Pacific is like Air Asia; their favourite past time is to change flight schedules. I do not know how many emails has Cebu Pacific sent me regarding the change of flight schedule.
The flight leaves on time and even reach Cebu 15 minutes before schedule.
When I arrived at the immigration, I found that the layout has changed. The immigration area is brighter.
Immigration clearance is fast and even the baggage area has been renovated. It is brighter and more spacious unlike the old and dingy look.
Now there are telco companies; SMART and Globe having kiosk in the baggage claim area.
I bought a 5 day data plan for P300. I think it is limited to 1.5GB. They have regular SIM card only but do not worry, if you require nano SIM or micro SIM, they will just cut it for you. All is done in 5 mins.
Exiting the terminal, the taxi stand have been moved to the right side. There is a proper yellow airport taxi stand now. Even the white taxi stand is now just beside the yellow airport taxi stand.
The queue is short and there is a constant flow of taxis. Obviously the white taxis are doing a better business than their yellow counterpart.
There is also a bus service that will bring you to SM Mall
I took a white taxi to the North Bus terminal. The traffic is quite bad actually and I need almost an hour to reach the terminal.
The bus terminal still collect P10 for taxi entry.
The next bus to Hagnaya port is 0800 hrs and the fare is P132. Along the way, the bus pass by plantation and hills. It is actually an enjoyable ride. However the bus seat is very small and with big ass people like me, it can be quite squeezy if there is a passenger sitting beside me.
The bus conductor is very friendly and helpful towards all passengers.
The ride to the port is almost 4 hours.
There are actually aircon bus but I did not see any. There are also buses that travel directly all the way into Bantayan via the RoRo.
There are two major shipping lines that serve the Bantayan-Hagnaya route; Super Shuttle Ferry and Island Shipping.
These two shipping lines schedule complement each other. So you need not choose which ferry to take next.
The ferry fare is P170 and you will have to pay P10 terminal fee.
There are many food options at the port and also there are actually several bus companies serving Hagnaya.
The ride is about 90 mins and the boat hardly leave on time.
You must keep the tickets because the ticket is only collected in the boat and also just before you walk up the stairs to the seats.
The ferry is slow travelling about 16km/hr only. If the vessel is a catamaran, you can reach Bantayan in an hour.
The beauty of Bantayan is clearly shown when the boat approach the port. The water is so clear and beautiful.
Upon reaching Bantayan port, many porters and trike drivers will approach you.
I look around the water in the jetty and found that the water is very clear.
A trike to the Santa Fe area will be P20 per person.
I walked all the way to the entrance of the port to get a trike. The ride to Anika Resort is just like 5 mins only.
Check-in is pretty fast but they will insists on you showing them the transfer slip. When booking with Anika directly, you will be ask to transfer 50% of your stay. You will need to show them the transfer slip in order to check you in.
Also not all rooms are available for booking in 3rd party site like Agoda. For the Courtyard room, you will need to book directly with Anika.
The booking process is quite simple. You get a quote, you pay and once they receive the money, they will confirm your reservation via email.
The room is actually made out of shipping containers. I would say this will shorten the construction process by a lot but looks “cheap”. The shipping containers will then be carved out into several small rooms.
The room is sufficient for two. Water pressure is decent and the cable TV channel is limited. The TV signal is also very erratic.
The aircon can be a little noisy and vibrate. The aircon is also weak and it need a long time to cool the small room.
One important thing to note is that there are no power points for you to charge your gadgets. The only 2 power points have already been used by the TV and also the decoder. So you had better bring a multi-plug.
I then walk to the beach and was very impressed by the beach around Anika.
It is very beautiful. The sea is so blue and as a matter of fact, has a different hue of blue.
It is obvious that the resort did maintain the beach front of the resort. There are very little trash and seaweeds on the beach.
I also walk around the resort and the resort is actually compact. There are toilets even outside the rooms and there is a wash area for the sand on your foot before you enter your room.
There is a small playground for the kids.
The sun deck chairs are of better quality compared to the neighbouring resorts.
The surrounding of the resort is very pleasant.
I walk out of Anika resort beach further north.
There are some kids flying their kite and also saw 2 little girls sorting out the fish net used by one of the girls’ father. I took some picture of them are they are smiling all the way.
I chatted with them and found that their name is Angela and Baby. They are both 11 years old. They are preparing the fish net for tomorrow’s use and the net and boat belongs to Angela’s father.
After some chatting, Angela asked me with her little English whether do I want to do island hopping the next day. I told them I am interested and I asked her how much. “P800” is her answer. She further add the island entrance fee is P500. Her English is a little incomprehensible and is aided by Baby.
She then run back home happily and bring her father out. I requested to set off tomorrow 0700 hrs to Virgin island. I also told him that the price is P800 and he seems to hesitate but agreed.
I then bid them farewell and take a rest in the room.
In the evening where there is still light, I just lie down on the sun deck and enjoy the cool breeze. It is already low tide and you can see that the water recede very far from the beach.
It is indeed very relaxing.
I decide to head out for dinner.
There are trikes readily available outside the resort and it cost P20 per person to go to the town. It is a short 5 mins ride.
The trike driver recommended MJ Square for a cheaper option.
MJ Square actually is a collection of restaurants. There are stalls selling shakes, beers and restaurants. There is even a cake shop. The food options here is definitely more than Malapascua.
I settled for the biggest restaurant there and ordered the so-called Malaysia Chicken Curry.
Obviously the food served is not Malaysian Chicken curry style. However it is spicy enough and taste quite nice.
After dinner, I just take a short walk around and there are actually many other restaurants. One of the restaurants even have a live band on Saturday.
There are also street vendor selling the usual BBQ chicken!
After that I took a P20 trike back to hotel.
I spend the rest of the night lying on the sun deck and watch the stars.
I have been to Philippines several times and this is the first time I can lie down on the beach and watch the stars feeling safe. Even in Boarcay Station 3, the security will advice me not to stay at the beach even the resort is at the beachfront.
Here in Bantayan, I can enjoy this without much worry. There is security guard that belongs to Anika at the beach who is monitoring the surrounding.
I am loving every minute of it.
I woke up early but I missed the sunrise.
Angela is actually waiting for me at the beach and once she saw me walking towards the beach, she came running towards me.
She brought her father out from the house. Since it is still low tide, Angela’s father have to push the boat nearer to the shore so I can walk less. It is very thoughtful of him. I can actually walk out since the water is very shallow.
The boat ride to Virgin Island is less than 30 mins.
Once you reach the island, you will be led by the staff to register and pay the P500 entrance fee. The P500 actually is for 2 person but since I am alone, it does not make any difference.
Virgin Island to me is a very commercialised island. There are huts to rent and it is decorated like a Christmas tree.
I don’t have a good feel about the place.
When walking along the beach, we found a fair amount of broken glasses. So please wear your shoes when walking along the beach.
Angela keeps mentioning a place called nature park. I can’t figure out what is it and I ask her is it in Virgin Island. She just nodded her head and keep saying monkey.
When we board the boat and decide to go back to Bantayan, Angela keeps asking me whether to go to the nature park. I then asked her father where is it and pointed a direction to it.
I asked is there any entrance fee and he said P200 and the kids can enter for free.
I can see that the kids yearn to go there and I agreed.
The ride took about 10 mins.
When walking towards the beach, the sand is very soft and our feet sink deep into the sand. The trick is not to wear shoes but I am afraid of losing them.
After some struggle, we all manage to reach the beach.
When we walk up towards the park, we are greeted by a Caucasian. I asked him what island is this and he answered it is Bantayan. I then asked whether is he the owner and he said yes.
The place we are visiting is actually Bantayan Nature Park and Resort. It is located on the Eastern part of the island and is about 25 min ride to Santa Fe town.
We were then brought by one of the staff to pay for the entrance fee. If you would just like to walk around for sightseeing, it will be P100. If you would like to use the facilities like fish spa, swimming in the cave and swimming pool then the fee will be P200.
The park has caged animals. Mainly small ones like birds. The star animal that the kids wanted to see is the monkey named Emo.
There is also 2 swimming pools; one for the kids and the other is adult pool. There is a fish spa also.
There is a cave that you can swim in it during high tide.
I later understand that this is the first time that the kids come to this park as not many visitors would like to visit this place. So the kids try to use this opportunity through me to come to visit this place.
Seeing the kids happy also made me happy.
After this we left the island and head back to the resort.
I again took a walk along the beach and saw families processing their catch. It is a type of fish and they actually peel the fish apart and sun them!
I also saw other workers loading good and I believe they are shipping it to other neighbouring islands.
I walk into the village and I can see that some villagers are still rebuilding their house after Yolanda.
At the resort, I then called a trike driver to bring me to see the sunset. I find a nice chap called Edgar (09235939556) to bring me there for P700. I bargained down to P600.
Unfortunately, his tyre is flat and could not come to fetch me. I then have to look for another driver. At the entrance of the resort, I look for another driver and manage to find a motorbike driver that is willing to bring me to see the sunset at Madridejos at P400.
The ride to Madridejos is really long. It is about 18km from Anika. The road is also bumpy and my ass really hurts.
The driver brought me to Kota Park in Madridejos. It is a small beach and park. It has a road leading to a structure.
I just sit there and wait for the sunset. Though the sunset is not as spectacular as Boracay, but it is still nice. I just love sunset.
Just before last light, I decide to head back to Santa Fe for dinner.
It is another long ride and some stretch of the road is really pitch dark. I look up and saw the stars in the sky. It is really beautiful.
We reach Santa Fe in about 40 mins.
I decide to eat at the same place. This time, I ordered Spicy Sizzling squid and it was delicious.
After dinner, I again walk around the area and saw a live band performing at the Blue Bar.
When I reach back at the resort, I again just spend my time watching the stars.
Boring isn’t it?
By the way, the cell phone signal is Bantayan is poor. I did not see any 3G signal anywhere on the island.
Wifi is provided in Anika but only on the beach area and the restaurant. There is no Wifi signal in the room.
My last day in Bantayan and I am already missing this place.
I woke up early to try to catch the sunrise.
The sunrise is beautiful too.
After sunrise, I again walk around the beach and saw some fisherman coming back from their work.
I also saw some kids playing. I wanted to take some pictures and they happily pose for me.
I then saw Angela and she is washing a basin on the beach. I walk towards her and have a chat with her. I also told her that I knew she has overcharge me on the Island hopping tour and she sheepishly admitted it and even told me how the P800 is being distributed.
She is really a nice girl and I wish her well before we parted.
I check out early in order to catch the 1030hrs ferry.
Anika provide complimentary transfer to and from the ferry terminal if you inform them early.
The schedule for each ferry is more prominently displayed here. Use the published schedule as a guide as mentioned earlier, the departure time is usually later.
Also mentioned earlier, there is a Ceres bus that travels all the way into Bantayan island. So there is also a ferry back to Hagnaya.
According to Anika resort staff and based on their observation, the ferry that has Ceres bus in it is 0600hrs, 1030hrs, 1430hrs and 1800hrs. Please do not use the said timing as absolute as schedule might change.
The ferry fare is P170 and you have to pay P5 for the terminal fee. When you walk towards the ferry, you will have to pay another P5 to the Port Authority.
I took some final shots of Bantayan before the ferry departs.
Again, the ferry leave about 25mins late and there is a Ceres aircon bus in it.
The bus is full so I cannot board mid way.
When the ferry reach Hagnaya, there will be buses waiting. I saw two Ceres buses leaving and one of them is even an aircon bus.
As it is a Sunday, the traffic is a bit lighter and we reach the bus terminal in 3.5 hours. However our bus is driving like F1 and we even have a near miss accident in Cebu.
Once in Cebu, I start to “work”; buying stuff according to the shopping list.
I stayed in Red Planet Cebu which is formerly Tune Hotel.
The room did not change much but now they uses a dispenser for hand soap and bath foam.
Water pressure is good and cable TV selection is good unlike Anika.
My kind friend in Cebu asked me out for dinner.
He brought me a hole in the wall near to Mango Avenue. The restaurant is called Boiling Shrimp Hauz. They mainly serve shrimp and squid in a plastic bag. They also do have side dishes like chicken.
The rice will be put on top of a table and you are supposed to use your hand to eat. A plastic glove is provided and even an apron is provided upon request.
The food is delicious and for a meal for 5, the bill is only P1760. This is cheap according to my country’s standard.
After dinner, my friend brought me to the latest SM Mall in Cebu; Seaside.
The mall is still quiet nice and having launch in Nov 2015, many stores are still close. The mall is really spacious and bright but a little deserted.
After walking two rounds, we left.
I was told that there is another new mall called Robinson Galleria that I should visit.
Well, maybe another day.
My last day in the Philippines.
I continue to “work”. I even visited Colonnade Supermarket at 0700hrs.
Took a jeep from the hotel to SM and also visited Robinson Galleria.
Dumaguete has a famous restaurant called Sans Rival and they have the famous Silvarna. Now they have open a branch in Robinson.
Bohol Bee Farm has also open a branch in Robinson Galleria. Bohol Bee Farm ice cream is awesome and no matter how busy I am, I will stop over for an ice cream. Like their branch in Bohol, they sell honey related items and also other snacks.
Hup Chan has also open a branch!
After all my shopping, I go back to the hotel to unload my stuff.
I then took a taxi back to SM seaside to look for something but too bad I cannot find it. I found out that there are several bus services bringing visitors to SM Seaside.
I then went for my lunch and guess where did I go?
I went back to the Boiling Shrimp Hauz! This time I ordered Cajun Shrimps with XXX spiciness!
After the food is served, the chef actually stand in a corner to see who actually the XXX spicy Shrimps. I guess he must be thinking I cannot finish the food.
In the end, I did finish the food and the chef just smile at me. I told him that the food is awesome. However, I guess I will still stick to medium spiciness the next time!
I then went back to the hotel and start packing my stuff.
I extended my room till 1800hrs and pay 50% of the current room rate.
I leave the hotel at 1830hrs and reach the airport around 1915hrs.
Cebu airport has also undergone some renovations. The departure hall is brighter. The airport has join the domestic and departure hall together.
You will have to pay P750 terminal fee. Immigration is fast but the International transit area still lack of restaurants and café though there is Coffee Bean.
The chairs has been changed and the waiting area is brighter.
Overall it is a positive improvement.
By the way, Cebu city does not have any 3G signal too. As a first tier city in the Philippines, I am surprised.
This conclude my visit to Bantayan.
Bantayan has rise from the bottom of my list to the top 3 for Cebu. It is really an enjoyable trip though there is really nothing much to do!
Bantayan is an underrated island. If you just need a break for like 2 or 3 days, this island is suitable for you.